Film | by Shane “Fresh Tomato” Hnetka

The Toronto Film Festival is one of the world’s biggest film events. Every year, TIFF brings hundreds of new movies to audiences and industry people. Hopefully this year’s fest has some really cool films. We could use some after 2017’s boring summer season.

Conventional Thinking

The Saskatoon Expo is Sept. 16 and 17 and I’m looking forward to it. This year’s celebrity guests are Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow), John Rys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Cas Anway (The Expanse), Ruth Connell (Supernatural) and Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk). Voice actors Maurice Lamarche and Rob Paulsen (Pinky and the Brain) will also be there, doing what, I assume, they always do — plotting to take over the world.

Unlike Regina’s Fan Expo — a production of the company that runs the Vancouver and Toronto Fan Expos — Saskatoon’s convention is by the folks who do the big Calgary and Edmonton shows. It’s interesting to compare the two Sask. events. Obviously, both focus on science fiction, fantasy and comic book culture. Saskatoon has the nicer venue, though Regina’s big celebrity talks get a better space for crowds. I enjoy both conventions and I like how they bookend the summer.

It’s great to have two big nerd-cons in Saskatchewan. I’ll be at the Saskatoon Expo, so check out Planet S’ blog for photos and reports by yours truly.

Blame The Cooks, Not The Critics

This year’s box office receipts are significantly down from previous years and everywhere I look on the Internet, everyone’s throwing in their two cents on how this spells the end for movie theatres.

There’s also lots of finger-pointing. One popular scapegoat is Rotten Tomatoes, the well-known Internet film review aggregator.

Rotten Tomatoes, for those who haven’t heard of it, takes dozens of critic reviews for a particular movie and then averages-out a rating. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic (another popular online aggregator) calculate their scores differently, but the results are mostly the same. They both give readers a quick and reliable way to see what critics think of a movie.

But Hollywood is nothing if not whiny and insecure, and lately there’s a lot of blame being lobbed at Rotten Tomatoes for several box-office flops (notably Baywatch).

Well, suck it up, I say.

When a Hollywood studio remakes a dumb TV show because producers don’t have the imagination, taste, talent or courage to make something fresh, there’s a good chance it will be bad, and yes, critics will point that out. Don’t shoot the messenger. Besides, tomatometer scores don’t even affect a film’s box office. A Sept. 11 Variety column by Andrew Wallenstein reports on a study that shows a negligible connection between a film’s score and its ticket sales (or lack of). Google it if you want to take a deep dive into the topic.

All I’ll add is that this year’s box-office drop (down three-quarters of a billion from 2016) shouldn’t be a surprise. Studios avoid risks for what they think are sure bets, but they forget that avoiding risk is itself risky. When you’re only churning out franchises, remakes and ill-considered extended universes, it’s bound to wear thin with audiences.

Maybe if you’re spending millions on a movie, try making it good. If it’s good, people will probably see it. Don’t blame the tomatoes.

Shane Hnetka is a made-in-Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd.